Safety Tips

Being safe when riding on the road relies on being predictable to motorists and having your bike in good working order.  Here's the essence of what you need to know. 


Safe Cycling Quick Guide



Riding on the Road


"Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle."—California Vehicle Code Sec. 21200

Our thanks go out to the California Bicycle Coalition for providing this summary of the California Vehicle Code sections related to bicycles, bicycling and bicyclists—essential reading for anyone who rides a bike in Napa County or anywhere in Napa County. To read specific CVC provisions, follow the links in the text.

Rights and Responsibilities



Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. CVC 21200





Where you can ride

  • Roadway: Bicyclists traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as safely possible, except when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, or if the lane is too narrow. CVC 21202
  • Bicycle lanes: On a roadway with a bike lane, bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use the bike lane except when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. CVC 21208
  • Direction of travel: Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. CVC 21650
  • Motorized bicycles: Motorized bicycles may not be used on trails, bike path or lanes unless allowed by local authorities. CVC 21207.5
  • Bike path obstruction: No one may stop on or park a bicycle on a bicycle path. CVC 21211
  • Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. CVC 21206 
  • Freeways: Bicycles (including motorized bicycles) may not be ridden on freeways and expressways where prohibited by the California Department of Transportation and local authorities. CVC 21960 
  • Toll bridges: Bicyclists may not cross a toll bridge unless permitted by the California Department of Transportation. CVC 21960

Equipping your bicycle

  • Brakes: Bicycles must be equipped with a brake that allows an operator to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. CVC 21201(a)
  • Handlebars: Handlebars must not be higher than the rider’s shoulders. CVC 21201(b)
  • Bicycle size: Bicycles must be small enough for the rider to stop, support it with one foot on the ground, and start safely. CVC 21201(c)
  • Lights: At night a white headlight visible from the front must be attached to the bicycle or the bicyclist. CVC 21201(d) and CVC 21201(e)
  • Reflectors: At night bicycles must have the following reflectors:
      • Visible from the back: red reflector
      • Visible from the front & back: white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe or ankle
      • Visible from the side: 1) white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and 2) a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike. These reflectors are not required if the bike has reflectorized front and back tires. CVC 21201(d)
  • Seats: All riders must have a permanent, regular seat, unless the bicycle is designed by the manufacturer to be ridden without a seat. Bicycle passengers weighing less than 40 lbs. must have a seat which retains them in place and protects them from moving parts. CVC 21204


Operating your bicycle

  • Helmets: Bicyclists and bicycle passengers under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on a bicycle. CVC 21212
  • Head phones: Bicyclists may not wear earplugs in both ears or a headset covering both ears, except hearing aids. CVC 27400
  • Alcohol and drugs: Bicyclists may not ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. CVC 21200.5
  • Hitching rides: Bicyclists may not hitch rides on vehicles. CVC 21203
  • Carrying articles: Bicyclists may not carry items which keep them from using at least one hand upon the handlebars. CVC 21205
  • Pedestrians: Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Bicyclists must also yield the right-of-way to totally or partially blind pedestrians carrying a predominantly white cane or using a guide dog. CVC 21950 and CVC 21963
  • Parking: Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians. CVC 21210


Other resources

  • Bike Safe California—the essentials for bicycling safely and confidently. Created by CBC as part of the Healthy Transportation Network




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